My daughter brought home a letter and order form from school this week, promoting a company that allows you to have your child’s drawing added to various Christmas items – cards, tags, that kind of thing.

Except, in my opinion, it’s a perfect example of how to put up so many barriers and make things so complex that you’re just going to lose sales.

Here’s the form…

Just look at the language used on this – not only the myriad rules but the way they’ve been written as well…

  • Do NOT Staple this form
  • TEACHER TO COMPETE CLEARLY
  • Cash Only
  • Keep any words or important items 2cm away from the edges
  • Use BOLD & BRIGHT Colours
  • make sure any items glued on are secure
  • WE DO NOT ACCEPT LATE ORDERS
  • CREATE ARTWORK ON THE REVERSE OF THIS SHEET

It’s shouty and quite bossy and, most importantly, off-putting. Softer, but still firm, language can be used to much better effect. And the myriad spelling mistakes (eg instead of e.g. and FIRSTNAME instead of FIRST NAME) and random capitalisation of words (Staple, Colour) really doesn’t help either (ironic for something being distributed via schools).

And this leads to the second issue – the sheer number of rules you have to abide by. If you put up barriers like this, it makes it more complex and less likely anybody will want to do it. Rather than US, the consumer, have to follow a precise set of rules, why shouldn’t the company find ways around this?

Why do you have to use the reverse of the form for the drawing? What is your child doesn’t like their first drawing and wants to submit a second? Allow the drawings to be submitted separately.

Why does it have to be within a 2cm border? Why not shrink the submitted drawing so it fits within whatever boundaries exist? Take the barriers away from the customer and make the solution yours to own.

The rules are also littered across the page. There should be a simple, list of them, which a parent can work through. How many people are going to miss the tick boxes for identifying the top of the child’s drawing?

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